Friday, 24 January 2014

How electronic newspapers began ...

I remember the video announcing the launch of the Electronic Telegraph 20 years ago. As regional newspaper editors we looked at it with amazement, saw the still pictures turn to video, listened to the man telling us screens would be everywhere by 2010 … and went back to our desks to produce newspapers. We were safe, complacent even. Any digital threat to print was years away and, anyway, we had big newsrooms gathering local content. Nobody would ever compete with that. This week I came across a news report from even earlier, 1981, on how the San Francisco papers started moving towards their digital editions. It contains some great lines: 

"We are not in it to make money. We're probably not going to lose a lot but we aren't going to make much either."

"The electronic newspaper is not as spiffy looking as the adverts imply …"

"Engineers now predict the day will come when we get all our newspapers and magazines by home computer but that's a few years on."

"It takes over two hours to receive the entire text of a newspaper over the phone and with a hourly use charge of $5 the new tele-paper won't be much competition for the 20 cent street edition."

Take two minutes to watch it here … it's a real gem.

Hat tip to and Nick Jenkins for bringing it to my attention.

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